One of the most peculiar of Eberron’s faiths, the Blood of Vol worships no god or higher power, but the divinity that lies within all mortal beings. It seeks to overcome death and reveres those who have already done so through ascension to the ranks of the undead.
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Followers of the Blood of Vol call themselves Seekers. They believe in no divine beings but instead seek to harness the “divinity within,” the life and godliness that flows through the blood itself.
Because of its focus on inner strength, the Blood of Vol appeals to people who are particularly driven or interested in personal improvement, and those who are disillusioned with the gods of other faiths. The faith also holds an obvious attraction for necromancers, death fetishists, and seekers of immortality.
Look not to the skies, nor to the depths below, nor even to the distant past or future. Seek the divine within, for the blood is the life, and in its call can be heard the promise of life eternal. One has but to listen.
This mantra, recited at the start of many rites and prayers, encapsulates the basic truths of the faith. True divinity exists only within the blood of living things. A person’s power comes from within, manifested as physical strength, mental acuity, or the ability to use magic. Meditate on and pray to the divinity within, not to false gods or prophets without
Only the divine is eternal.
Dolurrh is for those who fail to master and comprehend the Divinity Within. Those who succeed in doing so are destined for a greater eternal life—a paradise, tailored to the individual in question. The sect’s highest echelons are made up of undead. Seekers who know of these undead revere them, believing that they have sacrificed paradise to remain behind and guide others.
The Blood of Vol flows from the distant past, when the first stirrings of faith in blood as the source of life, and undeath as a path to divinity, arose within the elf tribes of ancient Xen’drik. The rudimentary faith developed along with the elves, following them to Aerenal and eventually spreading to other races. (Rumors persist that a version of the faith is still practiced by certain drow societies in Xen’drik.) Three thousand years ago, House Vol took control of the ancient faith due to the powers granted by the Mark of Death. When House Vol was destroyed four hundred years later, the faith was shattered and faded away with the passage of time.
The Blood of Vol has had a presence in Karrnath for centuries, appearing again after the War of the Mark. Followers of this faith (known as the Seekers of the Divinity Within) served under Karrn the Conqueror and Galifar I. Despite its small size, the Blood of Vol has had an outsized impact on Karrnath over the course of the Last War.
As the War moved into full swing, Karrnath was hit by a series of famines and plagues, forcing the heavily militarized nation to its knees. The priests of the Blood of Vol came to their nation's aid, using magic to bolster the failing crops and to cure diseases. Kaius I embraced this, transforming the small cult into the state religion and embracing the fledgling Order of the Emerald Claw, a nationalistic order of knights that had strong ties to the Seeker faith.
The Blood of Vol also pushed Kaius into the mass usage of undead in their armies. While the simple animation of soldiers on a battlefield is certainly a potent force multiplier, the biggest advancement was the creation of the Odakyr Rites. The Odakyr Rites enabled the creation of Karrnathi Undead, skeletons and zombies created from the corpses of elite Karrnathi soldiers. These undead bear a malign intelligence, able to plan and strategize yet still driven to show no mercy.
The Blood of Vol began to lose popularity as knowledge of the Order of the Emerald Claw's war crimes grew, to the point that Unknown removed their status as the state religion in 990, just before turning power over to Kaius III with the young king's 20th birthday. Kaius III further pledged to undo many of the practices instituted by the Blood of Vol, namely sealing the undead legions of Karrnath below the city of Atur.
Sacrament of Blood: Occurring irregularly throughout the year, this observance is the cornerstone of the Blood of Vol. In each of these hidden ceremonies, a priest recites a religious litany (partly in Draconic), then moves through the assembly with a ruby chalice and a ritual dagger called a bloodfang. Each participant cuts himself or herself and bleeds into the chalice; most Seekers believe this gesture to be purely ceremonial, an acknowledgment of the Divinity Within that unites them all. In fact, the blood is used by the sect’s highest priests and undead leaders for a variety of necromantic purposes.
Revelation Day (13 Zarantyr): Also called Ascension Day, this ceremony allows Seekers to meditate on their spiritual progress. Seekers gather for a Sacrament of Blood; once the chalice is filled, the priest conducts a ritual to purify the blood. (On rare occasions, some priests secretly alter it in other ways as well, depending upon their ambitions and abilities.) The chalice is then passed through the assembly, and each Seeker takes a sip. The result is a religious trance during which an imbiber experiences visions and waking dreams; these experiences are said to impart some element of truth or revelation about the Seeker’s life, faith, or future, but only if the Seeker interprets the visions properly.
|Rites and Prayers||Joseph Meehan|
Seekers rarely pray in a literal sense. The closest they come is a mantra intended to invoke the Divinity Within, as a means of granting themselves strength or fortitude for trials to come.
Unlike other faiths, the Blood of Vol ritually marks the passage of life-giving or life-ending events even if they occur outside the ranks of the faithful. The faith is not indifferent to the births and deaths of Seekers (these, too, are marked with ritual), but it also pays attention to the lives of important figures regardless of religion. This unusual habit puts Seekers in the position of ritually venerating the birth or death of complete strangers.
On rare occasions, a cult leader calls the local Seekers together to mark a birth or death of an unknown or otherwise unremarkable individual. Even so, no loyal Seeker questions the decision. This rite happens most often with deaths but can also occur at births from time to time. The order to conduct the rite almost always comes straight from the Crimson Covenant, and even local leaders are often mystified as to the significance of the individual so honored. Most never realize their leaders are acting on orders from above, of course.
Although the Blood of Vol frequently makes use of its traditional symbol—a dragon skull surrounding a blood-red gem—individual priests are allowed to choose their own symbols. This practice is encouraged partly to hide the religion in areas where Seekers are persecuted, but primarily to highlight the fact that the Seekers are praying, not to any higher power, but to the divinity within themselves.
|Temples and Shrines||Joseph Meehan|
The Blood of Vol is ﬂexible about what structures can serve as shrines. Once again, individuality is respected. Seekers keep their faith in their own ways, and the religion mandates no adherence to any particular size, style, or construction of a shrine. It must contain an altar of some kind, along with a means for collecting ritually shed blood neatly and without undue waste. Any room can serve this purpose, so long as it is prepared with the proper care and reverence. Most shrines are private affairs and usually small, since proper temples serve the needs of larger groups.
True temples are almost as varied as shrines but share more features. They are built of stone, natural or worked; the type is immaterial. Some are elaborate, using state-of-the-art engineering and magical techniques, incorporating multiple wings and vast, vaulted chambers. Others are simple, one-room cubes of severe look and design, and a few are converted natural caverns. As with smaller shrines, the only requisite detail is an altar (preferably in its own room). Even the altar itself need not have any speciﬁc shape or design. In some temples, it is located against the far wall of the altar room; in others, on the ﬂoor in the dead center of the room; in still others, it is elevated and placed to one side. Every temple of any means also maintains a system to collect and preserve blood in the altar room. This can be a permanent magical effect, in the case of the largest and wealthiest temples, or simply a pattern of grooves in the ﬂoor of the chamber, where spilled blood can pool in a speciﬁed collection place.
Candles, braziers, and other sources of fire are common, and a temple usually maintains at least one flame for each member of the local cult. These soulﬂames are kept alight, burning bright and red, whenever the temple is in use. They symbolize the sacred ﬁ re ﬂowing through all sentient life. When a cultist unlocks the secret to divinity—by no longer aging or by becoming undead—that flame is extinguished, but the candle or brazier remains. If a Seeker dies before making sufﬁcient spiritual progress, that ﬂame is treated with chemicals that make it burn a different color—most often black, but some temples use silver when a Seeker is murdered by a Silver Flame zealot—for three full days and nights. After this time, the light is extinguished and the source of the ﬂame destroyed.
Priests of the Blood of Vol seek out manifest zones of Mabar, the plane of Endless Night, to build shrines and temples. When the plane is coterminous with Eberron, it enhances the power of magic sacred to the faith, but this happens only once every five years, and for just three nights. Unknown to even most Seekers, the Crimson Covenant aggressively searches for such zones, and has built numerous new temples since the end of the Last War. Rumor tells of a massive ritual to be conducted during the three nights when next Mabar is coterminous, but none can say what such an ambitious rite is to accomplish.
The largest and most famous of all Vol's temples is The Crimson Monastery in Atur, the City of Night, in Karrnath. Like the Cathedral of the Silver Flame, the monastery is fortresslike in design and defensibility. Unlike its counterpart in Flamekeep, it presents a far more humble exterior.
Created by Joseph Meehan 1 year ago. Last modified by Joseph Meehan 3 weeks ago